Should County Government Fund Parks and Recreation Programs?
At a recent meeting, Carroll County Commissioners debated the role of government in funding local recreation and parks programs.
In a recent meeting of the Carroll County Commissioners to discuss the Master Plan, Commissioner Robin Bartlett-Frazier suggested that the county's parks and recreation program should be self-sustaining.
"Part of this section [in the Master Plan] somewhere should reflect the idea that parks and recreation should be striving to be self-sufficient and especially as we go foward, it will be easy to measure what costs are and to have those costs in the user fees," Bartlett-Frazier said.
Commissioners Doug Howard disagreed saying that while it is ideal when costs are covered through fees, it's not realistic to expect that the programs can be self-sufficient.
"I think it should reflect that—that that is something we encourage," Howard said. "But I don't believe parks and recreation should pay for itself, it's not a burden we've put on any other department."
Should Carroll County government fund parks and recreation programs that aren't covered by state government and user fees? Tell us in comments.
Bartlett-Frazier said that in the past parks and recreation programs weren't even a function of government but rather were taken care of by schools and local organizations such as the Lions Club.
"Even though it's nice and and does probably add to quality of life in the county, it's not one of those core roles of the county," Bartlett-Frazier said.
Commissioner Dave Roush said that the programs that can sustain themselves should, but that government is necessary to fund parks and programs that cannot sustain themselves.
"It can't be our goal to have them all be completely self-sufficient," Roush said. "It's difficult to charge a user fee for walking on a trail but not difficult to charge a member fee for something like a dog park or for a tournament organizer for use of a series of fields."
Bartlett-Frazier said that the parks programs could be self-sufficient if they were run more like a business.
"If you add up what all of your costs are and figure out what fees should be in place, you do make money which is what businesses do," Bartlett-Frazier said. "Tax dollars comes from all citizens anyway."
Howard said that he would be "100 percent against overcharging citizens for other people's use of other parks."
"If you ask citizens they'll tell you they want parks, and businesses that come here will you they value that in economic development decisions, so I don't know where you come up with the idea that it's not part of our purview," Howard said. "I don't think citizens would agree with that."
Watch the discussion here on the county's video portal.